Florida Dermatologist to Pay $26.1 Million to Settle False Claims Act Allegations
Earlier this week, the Department of Justice announced a $26.1 million settlement it reached with dermatologist Steven J. Wasserman, M.D. of Venice, Florida. The settlement resolves allegations that Dr. Wasserman was performing medically unnecessary services and engaging in an illegal kickback scheme. The DOJ classified the settlement as one of the largest ever settlements with an individual under the False Claims Act.
According to the complaint filed against Dr. Wasserman, he allegedly performed thousands of unnecessary skin surgeries on Medicare beneficiaries in order to get Medicare reimbursements for the procedures. Additionally, Dr. Wasserman was accused of entering into an illegal kickback scheme with the Tampa Pathology Laboratory (TPL), a clinical lab in Tampa Florida, and Dr. José SuarezHoyos, a pathologist and the owner of TPL. In return for sending biopsy samples to TPL for his Medicare patients, TPL allegedly gave Dr. Wasserman a diagnosis on a pathology report with a signature line for Dr. Wasserman to sign. Dr. Wasserman then signed the reports and passed off the diagnoses as his own, collecting over $6 million in Medicare payments for work he never performed.
TPL and Dr. SuarezHoyos previously reached a separate settlement agreement with the United States. The allegations brought against them were settled for $950,000.
Dr. Alan Freedman, a pathologist who worked at TPL from 2000 to 2003, became aware of the arrangement between TPL and Dr. Wasserman and filed his qui-tam lawsuit in 2004. After years of investigations, the government intervened in the case and negotiated this significant settlement. Dr. Freedman will receive slightly over $4 million as his share of the settlement.
Tycko & Zavareei is dedicated to stopping the rampant fraud that takes places in the heath care industry. We are incredibly pleased that whistleblowers like Dr. Freedman are continually bringing forward new cases to help this effort. If you are aware of health care fraud and need information on how to successfully bring your case, contact the attorneys at Tycko & Zavareei today.